The Forbidden Kingdom (Part Three) – Winter at Lake MacKenzie

“On a Mish “ #232 The Forbidden Kingdom (Part Three). Winter at Lake MacKenzie. Fiordland National Park. 13.10.2012. Unfortunately, there have been outdoors folk who have got themselves into situations outside of their capabilities. In the pursuit of something that I personally don’t understand, they venture into dangerous terrain the experienced would dare challenge and have paid the ultimate price…

I had a brief chat with the boys before leading them down to the DoC hut. You could feel that no one had been inside for a long time, and I’m sure the hut was expecting it to stay that way until the weather warmed up. At least the wood was well stocked and while the fellas made themselves at home I got the fire going.

I had to get back to the lodge, so I left the well chilled arrivals to it and said I’d be back at some stage for a yarn. It was now late afternoon and even though there was about an hour or so of daylight left it was already dark in the basin thanks to another round of snow hitting the wild and remote parts of Southland.

It was funny to see the surprise in the builders faces when I told them that there were people in the DoC Hut. It was snowing heavily again and while we were warm and well fed in the lodge, we were also in a situation where our only way home was in a helicopter. After dinner I headed down to the DoC Hut to see what the boys’ plans of escape were.

Mt Christina, Mt Lyttle & Mt Gunn from above the Routeburn Track

The lonely three in the candle lit hut were now warmer and looking a little bit more alive. They were all in their early twenties and didn’t seem to be as well-equipped as one would expect when hiking the Routeburn Track during winter. I had to have an inner laugh when one told me with confidence that they were sure they could get from Mackenzie Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut the next day. Knowing how hard this mish would be, I gave all the advice I could and then hoped for the best.

The next day I was up early-ish to see another layer of snow added, and in the darkness I heard the distinctive sound of an avalanche. I headed down to the DoC hut after breakfast and the only sounds heard was three tired dudes snoring. I caught up with them later and they said they were staying put for the day. For now, they were confined to this frozen forbidden kingdom.

After a clear night and a good sleep, the team went against my advice to head back the way they came, and they began their quest to Routeburn Falls Hut. The builders and I had a front row seat to a struggle…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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